cheap and free stock photos

Cheap and free stock photos that don’t suck. Including the free do-what-ever-the-hell-you-please kind of photos

The unfortunate history and reputation surrounding stock photos is that they are always too over-posed, too cliched, too cheap and just too damn hard to come by – the good ones anyway.

Lately, there has been a lovely resurgence in good, amazing and affordable stock photos. In large part due to better and cheaper cameras. Mobile phones have even now become contenders, and it would be interesting to see if small compact cameras are going to be around in the next 5 years.

A good stock photo is an asset you can never overlook.

I’m not a photographer, but I do consider myself a professional as I’ve had to swing a few photo shoots here and there for companies, clients and myself. I do enjoy the result, the anticipation of getting that raw image into my editor.

Instagram has even made photography (for some) more accessible. But with all the tools out there, it still all comes down to having a creative eye, and sensibility for how to frame the shot coupled with the technical limitations you’re working with.

Out with the old

I’ve had to work with stock photo sites for many years, and I’ve always felt it to be an over saturated market of sub-par, over-price crap. Until iStock decided to switch things up a bit.

I’m not saying iStock reinvented the stock photo game, I just think they’ve opened it up a little more. Whereas before, you had to jump a few hoops to even get a submission approved. They’ve also made it more affordable.

In with the new

About a year ago I wanted to find cheap stock photos. Cheap, meaning virtually free. However with that you were relegated to really bad photography, extremely narrow selections, and about a hundred thousand other folks using the same image.

I happily stumbled across a little gem of site called Creative Market. Initially I was looking for some vector icons, but instead found a treasure trove of amazing creative work ranging from typography to WordPress templates. They covered a wide range of great creative assets for everyone, including great, cheap stock photography.

Not only that, but I was compelled to upload some of my own photography and sell it. Not with the intention of making millions, but enough to offset whatever assets I wanted to buy off Creative Market myself.

My search for great stock photo sites has broadened a bit. I’ve stumbled on a bunch of amazing gems ranging from very inexpensive subscriptions to complete free stock photography. So without further ado.

1. Creative Market.

Cheap stock photos at Creative Market

“Beautiful design for all.” As described by them, “Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mouse-made design content from independent creatives around the world…”

Founded by Aaron Epstein and Chris Williams, these guys are in good shape for building a killer creative community. If you’re a designer, on a budget or one looking to make a little extra cash on the side, it’s almost like Shangri-La. I have nothing but amazing things to say. If you signup you’ll always get exclusive, and heavily discounted bundles of creative assets to use, even some freebies. Don’t expect things to get stale because their community is growing at a rapid pace, and with the ability to filter and search at a decent granular level, you can find the popular items quite easily.

Stockpholio

Free stock photos at stockpholio

Stockpholio is a bit of mystery to me. I can’t find who created it, who maintains it, or who runs it, but it’s a great source for images you can use commercially. All of the images are pulled from Flickr, so you’re tapping into one of the largest sources of user generated images on the planet.

Tip: Just click through to flickr to download the image you want.

Stocksy

Free stock photos at Stocksy

Stocksy offers premium images at a fairly low cost. Compared to guys like Getty Images, they’re making this quality available to the masses.

Their aim is to offer, “…tightly curated, high-quality stock photos to anyone seeking modern, relevant, authentic images.” The cost of the image depends on the resolution; low resolution start $10, while higher tops at $100. It’s a pretty great deal if you have some extra bills kicking around and want some really amazing pro stock.

Gratisography

Free stock photos at Gratisography

This is a fantastic one as well. Really creative, high concept shots. The only drawback to this resource, is the lack of search. Despite the amazing selections, you’re going to be spending some time on here.

Unsplash

Free stock photos at Unsplash

You want free? Who doesn’t! You can get 100% free stock photos from Unsplash, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding some amazing images. They have several contributing photographers, who clearly know what they’re doing.

Stockup

Free stock photos at Stockup

Stockup follows a similar vein to Unsplash in that all of their images are completely free. They’ve even started getting some attention via Product Hunt, The Huffington Post and The Next Web, so I see some great in the future with these guys.

The idea is, every week they upload from 21 high-quality stock photo website. So there’s always something fresh.

Death to Stockphotos

cheap stock photos at Death to stock photos

DtS offers both free and paid images, and they are amazing as well. If you register, they’ll send you images every week in a zip file. I’ve gotten 2 emails thus far, and I’ve been very impressed.

Their premium subscription of only $10 gets you “keys to the kingdom” plus a bonus pack. If you’re a startup, this is a killer deal for you, or your creatives, because their goal is to provide rich imagery without gouging your wallet.

I hope you find the list as useful as I have found them. I think it’s great to see such amazing talent, and assets become freely, and inexpensively available. Enjoy.